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PM Modi didn’t ask for Zakir Naik during Russia meet: Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad

FE Online
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Zakir Naik speeches banned in Malaysia: Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not ask for controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik during a meeting with him in Russia earlier this month, local media quoted Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad as saying. The comment comes in stark contrast to Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale’s statement claiming that PM Modi had raised the issue of Naik’s extradition with his Malaysian counterpart during a meeting on the sidelines of the fifth meeting of the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok. Naik is wanted in India in connection with charges of hate speech against communities and financial irregularities. He fled to Malaysia in 2016.

"Not many countries want him (Zakir Naik). I met Prime Minister Modi, he didn’t ask me for him. This man could also be troublesome for India," Mahathir told Malaysian Media, adding that Zakir Naik is not a Malaysian national and was given permanent status by the previous government in 2016.

"Zakir Naik isn’t a national of this country, he was given permanent status by the previous government. A permanent resident isn’t supposed to make comments on the country’s system or politics, he breached that, so now he isn’t allowed to speak," he added.

READ MORE: Zakir Naik banned from delivering speeches in Malaysia

Foreign Secretary Gokhale had said while briefing reporters on the meeting between the two premiers in Russia on September 5 that Modi raised the issue of Naik’s extradition from Malaysia with Mahathir. "Both the parties have decided that our officials will stay in contact regarding the matter and it is an important issue for us," Gokhale added.

In August this year, the Malaysian government had banned Naik from holding religious talks in the country. He was even grilled by the Malaysian police for hours in connection with the remarks made against Hindus during a talk in Kota Baru. He was grilled under Section 504 of the Penal Code of the Malaysian law for the intentional insult with an intent to provoke a breach of peace.

Naik has been living in Malaysia for the last three years. He was granted permanent residency in Malaysia after he fled India in 2016 soon after he was charged with giving inflammatory speeches. Naik used to run his shows on Peace TV, now banned in India. He was booked in 2016 for hate speeches and money laundering after Dhaka terror attack. One of the attackers had said that he was inspired by Naik’s speeches.